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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Destress during 2nd Saturdays downtown

    Courtesy+of+Sandy+MellorAn+aerial+view+of+Hotel+Congress+during+2nd+Saturdays.+For+students+looking+to+take+a+break+during+finals+or+seniors+moving+leaving+Tucson+after+graduation%2C+this+weekends+event+downtown+offers+entertainment+for+all.

    Courtesy of Sandy Mellor

    An aerial view of Hotel Congress during 2nd Saturdays. For students looking to take a break during finals or seniors moving leaving Tucson after graduation, this weekend’s event downtown offers entertainment for all.

    Though downtown certainly hustles and bustles less than its big-city counterparts, unique Tucson eateries and artists of all sorts assemble once a month to enliven the city in a bombastic, mystical affair on 2nd Saturdays.

    As denoted in the occasion’s name, every second Saturday of each month, a huge gathering of local Tucson makers and artists transpires, spanning on Congress Street from Fifth Avenue to Stone Avenue, between Broadway and Pennington. Restaurants on Congress such as HUB Restaurant and Ice Creamery and Cafe Poca Cosa, along with venues such as the historic Rialto Theatre — with various street performers and vendors sprinkled in-between — all open their doors with specials to supplement 2nd Saturdays. 

    However, the real kicker of 2nd Saturday is the performances the coordinators of the self-proclaimed “urban block party” book to showcase to the Tucson public for absolutely free.

    “It’s meant to be unlike a lot of other things you pay to get in for and then you have to pay for every single thing,” said Sandy Mellor, 2nd Saturdays’ director of community relations. “It’s an event that if you don’t have a penny in your pocket, you can come down to, walk around, still enjoy the music, see the free entertainment — and there’s a lot of free entertainment — so it really is a good bond with the whole community.”

    This Saturday will be the last opportunity for many students to experience and embrace 2nd Saturdays shenanigans until the start of the fall semester. Performers and musicians, including the Domingo Degrazia Band, Belly Dance Tucson and Sunduster, will grace the stage during the raffle for a donated 2015 Ford Mustang. All the money raised through selling raffle tickets will go straight back into the 2nd Saturdays budget, which is sustained through donations and sponsorships.

    “I like 2nd Saturdays because I get to eat local food at the vendors while listening to music that I otherwise would never have heard,” said Brenna Wagy, a Spanish interpretation and translation junior.

    Downtown venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Borderlands Brewing Company and Artful Living Gallery and Studio will also host special exhibits and performances to commemorate the May installment of 2nd Saturdays. The downtown bar scene will heighten with the influx of 2nd Saturdays attendees as well. Mellor said the Board of Directors always attempts to keep each event original and alluring, incorporating new performers and vendors to collaborate at each event.

    “We are always looking to keep the entertainment fresh, so we want to make sure that if people are out there and they want to be part of [2nd Saturdays], we allow them to interview and send a video or a CD or something we can check out,” she said. “Or, if we hear of a really good band or some really good street performers, then we’ll go and try to check them out. We try to keep it high quality, ’cause that’s what we think keeps people coming.”

    Mellor said the affair has vastly expanded since its commencement in 2010. Originally only hosting 4,000-6,000 attendees, each 2nd Saturdays now attracts between 16,000-20,000 people each month. She said the Board of Directors has diligently worked from the event’s conception to morph 2nd Saturdays into a unique community experience in which vendors and performers actively seek to participate.

    “Some [students] come down just to do the bar scene, and that’s OK. … I think a lot of people from [UA], if they’re under 21, the drinking is not what they come for,” she said. “They come for the street vibe, the music, the entertainment — just seeing other people, seeing your friends. Just that good feeling.”

    Mellor said she thinks the most alluring and crucial aspect of 2nd Saturdays is the very atmosphere throughout downtown during the event. It incorporates the beautiful diversity many Tucsonans overlook.

    “[The entertainers] are all kind of in their own place: separate,” she said. “But as you walk by, you feel all this excitement and magic. … You might see guys with bagpipes marching up and down, or you might see the guy who juggles, or you might see this beautiful girl, who’s about 8 years old, playing violin. You might hear beautiful Spanish guitar or classical guitar. It’s amazing. It’s kind of mystic.”

    As it is the last month of the school year, Mellor urges students who have yet to experience 2nd Saturdays or downtown in general to meander through the cultural event this weekend.

    “I would encourage everyone to come,” Mellor said. “You can walk around for two hours for free and just enjoy the vibe. It’s just a downtown, urban vibe, and then 2nd Saturday just adds on to it. … It’s kind of exciting, and the quality of entertainment is just amazing.”

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